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During the Revolutionary War, when the American people were fighting for independence, a governor of one of the colonies found himself in great danger of being captured by British soldiers.
The governor, whose name was Griswold, contrived to reach the house of a relative, and while there, was informed that the soldiers had discovered his place of refuge and were then on their way to seize him.
Griswold at once realizing that his peril was imminent, determined, if possible, to reach a small stream, where he had left a boat so hidden, by the foliage that it could not be seen from the road.
In great haste and excitement, he left the house and proceeded in the direction of the river. Passing through an orchard, he encountered a young girl about twelve years old. She was watching some pieces of linen cloth which were stretched out on the grass for the purpose of bleaching.
Hetty—that was the girl’s name—was seated under a tree with her knitting, and had near her a pail of water, from which she occasionally sprinkled the cloths to keep them damp.
She started up and was somewhat frightened when she saw a man leaping over the fence; but soon recognized him to be her cousin.
“O, is it you, cousin!” exclaimed Hetty; “you frightened me—where are you going?”
“Hetty,” he replied, “the soldiers are seeking for me, and I shall lose my life, unless I can reach the boat before they come. I want you to run down toward the shore and meet them.”
“They will surely ask for me; and then you must tell them that I have gone up the road to catch the mail-cart, and they will turn off the other way.”
“But, cousin, how can I say so?—it would not be true. O, why did you tell me which way you were going?”
“Would you betray me, Hetty, and see me put to death? Hark! they are coming. I hear the clink of their horses’ feet. Tell them I have gone up the road and Heaven will bless you.”
“Those who speak false words will never be happy,” said Hetty. “But they shall not compel me to tell which way you go, even if they kill me—so run as fast as you can.”
“I am afraid it is too late to run, Hetty; where can I hide myself?”
“Be quick, cousin. Get down and lie under this cloth; I will throw it over you and go on sprinkling the linen.”
“I will do it, for it is my last chance.”
He was soon concealed under the heavy folds of the long cloth. A few minutes afterward, a party of cavalry dashed along the road. An officer saw the girl and called out to her in a loud voice—
“Have you seen a man run this way?”
“Yes, sir,” replied Hetty.
“Which way did he go?”
“I promised not to tell, sir.”
“But you must tell me this instant; or it will be worse for you.”